2016 is almost done! As such, editors Brandon C. Kesselly and Chris Walker are giving their year-end lists of the music that stuck with them most this year. To keep things fair and avoid recency bias, all of the songs are from projects released between Thanksgiving 2015 and Thanksgiving 2016. Please enjoy the tunes, and happy holidays! See you in 2017!


2016 was a weird year in music for me. I listened to fewer artists than I used to, doubling down on some of my longtime favorites like Rihanna, Usher and Kanye West. Combined with recent favorites Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper, and I had consumed full albums while I slept, drove, worked, worked out, and ate almost daily. I kept things almost exclusively in the realm of hip-hop — rap and R&B ruled my ears this year. Some projects surprised me, and others I caught on to so late they didn’t make the list. These are the songs and albums I just couldn’t stop listening to this year.


  • “Needed Me” — Rihanna (ANTI)
  • “Ultralight Beam” — Kanye West Featuring The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & Chance The Rapper (The Life of Pablo)
  • “Blessings” — Chance The Rapper (Coloring Book)
  • untitled 07 | 2014–2016” — Kendrick Lamar (untitled unmastered.)
  • Ivy” — Frank Ocean (Blonde)
  • “Sucker For Pain” — Lil Wayne, Imagine Dragons, Wiz Khalifa, X Ambassadors, Ty Dolla $ign & Logic (Suicide Squad: The Album)
  • Holy Key” — DJ Khaled Featuring Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean & Betty Wright (Major Key)
  • “Nas Album Done” — DJ Khaled Featuring NaS (Major Key)
  • Self Control” — Frank Ocean (Blonde)
  • “Drug Dealers Anonymous” — Pusha T Featuring JAY Z (N/A)
  • Nights” — Frank Ocean (Blonde)


  • ANTI — Rihanna (January 27)
  • The Life of Pablo — Kanye West (February 14)
  • untitled unmastered. — Kendrick Lamar (March 4)
  • Lemonade —Beyoncé (April 23)
  • Coloring Book — Chance The Rapper (May 13)
  • blonde — Frank Ocean (August 20)


My music taste generally tends to lie in earworm — that song you can’t get out of your head no matter what. That winds up being a majority of what I bump, be it because of one verse or a switch in a beat that just sounds crazy. I’ve literally listened to “Pick Up the Phone” over 100x because Young Thug opens his verse by humorously alluding to using codeine like his grandma (and because I know what he’s saying). As well, I was overall just impressed. Solange is more than a mega-famous pop star’s sister; British people can rap; and Gucci got out, so it’s a problem. Also, Chance the Rapper is now a grammy nominated artist without having to sell anything except Kit Kats.


  • “Pick Up The Phone” — Travis Scott & Young Thug featuring Quavo (Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight & Jeffery)
  • “X” — 21 Savage featuring Future (Savage Mode)
  • “No Sleep (Intro)” — Gucci Mane (Everybody Looking)
  • “That’s Not Me” — Skepta featuring JME (Konnichiwa)
  • “Don’t Let Me Down” — The Chainsmokers featuring Daya (Collage)
  • “This is What You Came For” — Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna (N/A)
  • “No Money” — Galantis (N/A)
  • “Low Life” — Future featuring The Weeknd (EVOL)
  • “Cranes in the Sky” — Solange Knowles (A Seat at the Table)
  • “PILLOWTALK”- Zayn Malik (Mind of Mine)


  • Malibu — Anderson .Paak (January 15)
  • This is Acting — Sia (January 29)
  • Lemonade —Beyoncé (April 23)
  • Konnichiwa — Skepta (May 6)
  • Coloring Book — Chance The Rapper (May 12)
  • Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight — Travis Scott (September 2)
  • A Seat at the Table — Solange Knowles (September 30)

January 2, 2017 Update: Courtesy of Spotify, here is the full playlist below:

RYMS 2016 Editors’ Picks

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